AI nothing to fear here

Strategy Account Directors Dominique Fyson and Brad Gilbert share their opinions and top tips on the future of AI.
AI – you might fear it you might love it, you might understand it or not. Either way it impacts your world on a daily basis and was a hot-topic at this year’s IAB Engage. Many people appreciate the benefits of machines in low level tasks like spellcheck as it helps them create what they want but people are worried about machines helping in higher level tasks such as forming an integral part of their ad campaign.
This year has seen major announcements by Microsoft and Facebook, leading to increased conversation around the topic in the back half of 2016. ‘Conversation commerce’ will start to be seen across major platforms such as Skype, which will let developers write not just text chat bots, but voice and video bots.
Microsoft is also supporting a slew of web services to support the underlying AI that powers the bot conversations, called ‘cognitive services’ and are aimed to compete against Google’s AI services. Not to be left behind, Facebook followed by announcing its own bot platform for Facebook Messenger.
Dominique’s AI opinion
If I was to ask my friends what they thought about AI and ‘Bots’, the general attitude would be one of slight apprehension thanks to the countless movies where AI robots take over the world and destroy the human race. However they would also assume that this level of machine learning is pretty far off in the future and that true AI is still a fantasy for tech developers.
There are already some really interesting examples of how these bots have been successfully incorporated into apps and how they are interacting with users. The most advanced is WeChat, a cross-platform instant messaging service in China. Possessing over a billion accounts, 700 million active users and around 25,000 chat bots, WeChat are doing something right. They have changed the way Chinese brands interact with their consumers.
Therefore we expect to see more brands move towards ‘conversational advertising’ and create strategies to build better engagement across various platforms like social, search and mobile. As brands continue to fight for consumers declining attention spans, bots will irreversibly transform the way brands interact with their audiences.
Emi Gai, CEO of Teads Studio predicted that consumers will no longer be persuaded by those brands that tell emotional stories in a creative way, but by those brands that make their life easier through real-time; intelligent services. Therefore bots will enable advertisers to stay relevant and give people the power to interact with them in a very direct way.
So while we still might be a way off robots taking over the world, we are on the verge of a new era of brand interaction that consumers won’t be able to ignore. And it’s a race to see which one of the leading tech companies will claim they achieved true AI first. It could be a tight race, but I think I would still put my bet on Google.
Dominique’s top AI tips
According to Emi Gai, CEO of Teads Studio, the significant increase in the development of bots means we are closer to true AI than ever before. Gai outlined that bots need three things to be developed in order to work efficiently. These are;

  • The ability to learn
  • Access to a data source
  • Be cost effective

Brad’s AI opinion
My takeout is that our industry needs to get over our ‘AI fear’ quickly as we move to the AI first media world.
As AI becomes baked into our lives, as close to home as our personal assistants (Siri and Google voice search were just the beginning) AI will start to dictate the content we consume. e.g. if a few of our friends have booked tickets to an event an AI assistant could suggest we also buy tickets to the event, actually book our tickets for us and arrange a refund if we decide not to attend. We need to start thinking about how we collaborate with machines, as this process could be influenced by advertiser money, it could in-fact be an ad.
Microsoft’s session showed how AI can change lives with their collaboration with Pivothead, bringing “vision” to the visually-impaired. As we spend our days applying our human intelligence (empowered by machine intelligence) to solve client problems we can do the same for consumer problems. Especially relevant as service-led advertising becomes more important.
From this and countless other examples we can see AI will be integral to achieving campaign objectives. We will have to start thinking beyond consumer channels and comms in our response to briefs. We will need to increasingly consider collaboration and interaction with machines as much as humans. It may be that we are proposing APIs in response to brief alongside channel plans and landing page builds.
Brad’s top AI tips
We know AI will play a huge part in the media and advertising world going forward but we don’t know how exactly. That is the fun challenge for the industry to work out and the key to this (according to the experts at IAB engage) is to collaborate and listen:
Collaboration with clients, technology partners and other agencies will overcome the current shortage of knowledge and skills holding back advertisers from unleashing the full power of AI. Whilst we must collaborate with the machines we can’t rely on them entirely, we must also listen to our guts because we need to keep humanity at the heart of out comms something AI cannot (currently) dictate.
Listen. As a wide and evolving field you always need to be listening for new AI technologies and insights to integrate into comms and test. As we test we must also learn, so listening for feedback is critical.